I turned seventeen in 1993, nothing of particular note occurred throughout my seventeenth year — that I can recall (my memory is a bit sieve like, so I could be lying). Yet it stands out for me. Whenever I’m asked about a favourite time/age, seventeen is it.
I do recall feeling carefree and happy mostly — just because. Today is my birthday, I am now forty two years old. No big plans afoot, but I will be sharing my favourite chocolate birthday cake with my kiddies after school. I’m feeling good. *smiles*
Sometimes, those sepia coloured memories drenched in nostalgia — come back to the forefront. You know the ones I mean? You think of them quite fondly now, as the details that shaped you. Though at the time, you may have barely noticed them as markers — that shifted your life into the next season.
Sometimes it Snows in April
I can’t stand the rain. Here in the UK, it rains alot. It’s the fifth of March, we just experienced a snow storm over the last few days in London and much of the UK — but apparently, this is Spring.
I’m hastily trying to hedge a plan, that has me not leaving the house again until the safe haven of Summer arrives. I reckon, I’ll have quite a wait.
Believe it or not, I used to be quite an ‘outdoorsy’ person as a kid. Hours spent in the adventure playground, there was swinging on swings, climbing on climbing frames galore and all sorts.
I rode my bike all over my neighbourhoods quiet streets, I had a sky blue BMX Raleigh that I fell off more than once. My primary school was at the bottom of the road I lived on, climbing over the school gates at the weekend and during summer to play football in the playground — was a regular pastime.
There were two options for getting into the locked playground: the humongously tall main iron gate, where I took the risk of falling to my death or broken limbs. Or the side gate, which was a reasonable human height of about six foot. The side gate was also iron and had a rectangular open space in the middle (clearly not made for humans to pass through), that you could contort and wriggle your body enough to get through.
I chose both options on any given day. I guess it was only luck that prevented broken limbs, or becoming stuck in that rectangular space like Winnie the Pooh leaning in through Rabbits window to swipe honey. Hmm, trespassing — such a sweet memory.
Those Winnie the Pooh books and films, were a fave. I’d say Winnie and Tigger were the characters I warmed to most, something about their loyalty and energy resonated. Incidentally, in 2000 a Canadian Paediatric team of Doctor’s — led by Dr Sarah Shea published a journal called Pathology in the Hundred Acre Wood: a neurodevelopmental perspective on A.A.Milne (A.A.Milne was the author of the original Winnie the Pooh books) — which diagnosed each of the characters from the book, with a Mental Health Illness. Winnie was labelled with ADHD( Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder)and OCD (Obssessive Compulsive Disorder), whilst Tigger got risky impulsiveness that was possibly linked to somesort of substance abuse.
By the time I was thirteen, I outgrew that rectangular space that was never made for me. For some reason — I also got more fearful about death and broken limbs, so I quit climbing the humongous gate that summer.
Unbeknown to me then, there was a certain shift already taking shape within me — another change was coming.
Never Dreamed You’d Leave In Summer
Once I turned fourteen, I remember much of my adolescence sounding a little something like this:
- Angst (on full blast)
- Anger — I spent a lot of time frowning and growling about one thing or another
- Middle child syndrome — when will people listen to me? nobody listens, nobody cares
- Love is stupid — I’ve never been in love, but I know it’s stupid…it makes people do dumb stuff all the time (actually, think I was onto something with this one).
- What’s the point of marriage? Seriously, just be together or don’t , no need to get married — marriage like love, seems to turn people into morons. I hope I get married one day though. When will someone ask for my hand in marriage? Aargghh, forget about marriage.
- Little brothers and sisters are annoying, they don’t have to do anything and they get away with EVERYTHING! They can’t even wipe their own arses. I have to peel a hundred muddy potatoes and slice them into chips and cook for them, before I get to eat. When will they grow up? My life sucks.
- What is it about girls and this obsession with pink stuff? Gosh, girls are soooo annoying, who cares about hair, makeup and boys. Blue is my favourite colour, I don’t want to paint my face with makeup, I like riding my bike — that’s blue too. I’m not weird. Am I weird? Who cares
- Day dreams about being adopted by the Huxtable’s (yes from the sitcom The Cosby Show, I said it) one day, when will that day come? Sigh
- Nightmares about not knowing how to kiss — ‘my gosh, what if I bite their tongue or they bite mine?’ When will I have my first kiss? When?! Who cares, I’m never kissing anyone, trading spit is gross anyway. Eww
- When will I fall in love? What if I say I love you and they don’t say it back? What if say I love you, then realise sometime later that I don’t — how will I tell them? I can’t deal. Ugh
- When will my parents get it? My parents don’t understand anything
- When will this all make sense? I don’t understand anything
I got my period that year. *groan*
My older sister (just fifteen months older) knew something about periods already, looking back — she tried to warn me about what was to come with a look mixed with pity and glee in her eyes. That first day of my period, I announced its arrival to my mum and sister whilst stood in the kitchen.
My sister told me to jump up and down, I did. She kept asking me to bend and touch my toes, do star jumps or something — as you do. She asked if my tummy was hurting every five minutes, I kept saying it was fine — but it wasn’t. I was just being stubborn, trying to prove nothing had changed.
Crazy stomach cramps took me over after that, month after month I would miss days of school. My mum wondered how I would ever hold down a job, I wondered if my periods were trying to kill me. My childhood as I knew it, was over.
So, yep just the usual tales of woe, the day to day so called crisis — of growing pains. All that shit is pretty funny to me now, although periods remain decidedly unfunny. I’d like to think I came through this ‘turmoil’ relatively unscathed.
My anger still gets the better of me to be honest (I’m trying), but my frowny expression has graduated to ‘resting bitch face’ when required. It’s so much better for warding off wrinkles and morons, so there’s that.
What am I longing for right now?
Hmm, continued peace of mind — would be good. This moment that I’m writing in is pretty peaceful. I like this, I like this alot.
Disclaimer: The subtitle ‘Sometimes it Snows in April’, is a song by Prince. The subtitle ‘Never Dreamed You’d Leave in Summer’, is a song by Stevie Wonder.